My Father’s Drinking – We Paid the Ultimate Price

SoberSober doesn’t Suck!is a safe place for people to share their stories of drinking, addiction and recovery openly and honestly. There is no requirement of sobriety for posting, if you’re concerned about your using I want to hear from you too.

I recently received the following article from one of my readers who would prefer to remain anonymous. I’m proud to share her words, hoping someone will find comfort and hope in them.

If you’d like to tell your story, your feelings about your own addiction or that of someone else in your life please head over to the Sober doesn’t Suck! page. Addiction affects the people around us, I’m interested in sharing all sides.

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My Dad’s depression set in shortly after I got married. While I know that the two events are not connected, it took some time to not blame myself for the downward spiral in his life.

Although I always suspected that he was drinking, my mom and my brother both seemed unable to accept that as the reason for my Dad’s disconnect from the rest of the family. It wasn’t until a few months later when we received a call from the local police, who had found him passed out in his parked car, with a bottle in his hand, that the rest of the family realized the kind of help Dad needed.

A few weeks later, he agreed to enter a rehab facility. A decision that made me unbelievably proud of him. However, a week after he came home sober, he was arrested for drinking and driving – it was Christmas eve.

After the drinking and driving charge, things rapidly began to spin out of control. At this point my mom moved out, and my brother and I took on the care taking of our dad. The next few months were a blur of phone calls from the police letting us know that dad was either in jail or in the hospital, as he had been found passed out in various places around town.

My Dad’s Drinking Was Out of Control

Early that spring, I gave birth to my first child – an event my dad wasn’t present for – and made a conscious decision to step away from the drama his drinking caused in my life.

For the past three years, I had only spoken to my dad sporadically. When he was sober, he was always welcome to be a part of our lives, but more often that not, he was more content drinking. Those three years continued to be plagued by calls from the local police, and countless trips to the hospital.

In December of 2011, my Dad made the decision to enter rehab again – this time it was solely his decision. I was so proud of him, and made a point of including him in our family Christmas celebrations. I decision i will always be grateful for, as he was able to spend that Christmas with his only grandchild.

Right after New Years Dad entered rehab and seemed to do great.

But it took less than 48 hours upon leaving the facility at the end of January for him to start drinking again.

This past April, I received a call on a Sunday morning that forever changed my life. I remember it like it was yesterday. My daughter and I were playing with Lego when the phone rang. When I looked at the caller i.d. my Dad’s number came up, but there was no one on the other end. When I called back, my Mom answered, and told me Dad was passed out and she couldn’t wake him up.

Typically, I would have brushed this conversation off, as we had done this countless times before. But something in my Mom’s voice told me I had to go immediately.

After dropping my daughter off at a neighbors, I quickly drove across town. Every part of my being told me there was something wrong, and I couldn’t get to the house fast enough. By the time I pulled onto my Dad’s street there were ambulances and police cars everywhere. My mom and my brother were on the front lawn in tears, and the paramedics were sitting by their truck. One look at my mom told me everything I needed to know – my Dad was gone.

My Fathers Drinking Took It’s Toll

It has been five months, and I still have a hard time believing my Dad drank himself to death. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t expect to see him or hear his voice. And not a day goes by where I don’t miss him.

I still feel incredibly guilty for not doing more to try and stop the drinking, not doing more to show him how much I loved him, and not doing more to include him in my daughter’s life.

I am not proud of many of the things I said to him when he was drinking, and more than anything I wish I could just give him a big hug and tell him how much I care. But I can’t, because he is gone.

Drinking tore my family apart. My Dad is gone because he couldn’t battle his demons, and I am left with an empty place in my heart because I wasn’t strong enough to fight those demons for him.

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12 Responses

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. I know your story all too well. My mom passed away from alcoholism in April 2001. She was only 41 years old, I was 20. She didn’t get to see me get married, the birth of her two grandchildren, or my college graduation. She missed my brother graduating from high school and college. And now his engagement.

    You are so right when you say drinking tears your family apart. It feels like this big part of your life and world is missing. Things are never the same. You question everything. And you wonder WHAT IF constantly.

    Thinking of you and your family. You are not alone!

  2. Wow Julie. I’m so sorry. What a reminder to keep fighting. Losing a parent isn’t easy. And this disease is so sad. Hang in there girl. You are doing such a great thing here. Thank you.

  3. I am so sorry to hear of her loss! And it’s very brave of her to tell her story (anonymous or not). She can’t blame herself for anything though. We all do what is best in the moment and never expect the worse. I’ve seen first hand what drinking can do to family members and the most important thing to remember, is that there’s a choice, but it truly has to be theirs. Thanks for sharing her story Julie!

  4. What a heart-breaking story! What causes someone to suddenly become a hardcore alcoholic? This should be a lesson to all of us that alcoholism can grip us at any point in our lives.

    Jenna

  5. You bear NO BLAME in what happened! None. In fact, you are more fortunate than most in that your dad actually went to rehab.

    I grew up in a home with 2 alcoholic parents, and my dad’s heart gave out before his liver did, but according to his doctor, it was close, and either could have been the cause of death.

    So, I say this in all love, you are not to blame. Your dad made his choices, and he knew the consequences.

    We cannot change people unless they want to change.

  6. I think it’s so great that you have a place where people can go and share their feelings and experiences. I would consider it a great complement if people wanted to share their most vulnerable moments with me.

    Besos, Sarah
    Zookeeper at Journeys of The Zoo

  7. I so feel your pain, Julie. Illst my baby sister three months ago due to her drug and alcohol addictions. I am wrestling with all the guilt I feel over not doing more to stop her and also with the things I said to her to get her to stop. More than anything I wish I could tell her that I love her no matter what.

  8. Wow! This is a powerful and sad story. I wish I knew who had published it. Very good story. Thanks for sharing. This totally gave me huge flashbacks to my childhood. Gosh I had completely buried a pole if memories about my dads drinking.

    Julie: this is a great feature in your blog. Thanks. I may have something for you. From child’s perspective. And to whoever asked what causes a person to drink – I think there are so many things… But mental illness that is untreated or undiagnosed can be a huge factor.

    Happy thanksgiving!

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